Big Ten

Watch a lightsaber battle between Mark Dantonio and Nick Saban

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Watch a lightsaber battle between Mark Dantonio and Nick Saban

Michigan State and Alabama are facing off in the Cotton Bowl on New Year's Eve.

And while it's not the fate of the galaxy, a trip to the College Football Playoff national championship game does provide some pretty high stakes.

So leave it to the Internet to churn out a mashup of college football and one of the highest-stakes movie moments of all-time.

Yes, one industrious YouTuber (Dan Stephens) has created a version of the lightsaber duel from Return of the Jedi featuring Mark Dantonio and Nick Saban.

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Take a look:

It's fitting in many ways. Dantonio, in the role of Luke Skywalker, wields a green lightsaber, while Saban, in the role of Darth Vader, uses a red lightsaber. So the clip is accurate to the teams' colors.

Plus, Saban used to be the head coach at Michigan State, with Dantonio as one of his assistants. So if you're looking at it from the Michigan State perspective, Dantonio has assumed the role of savior of the galaxy, a role Saban held before he, um, turned to the dark side, otherwise known as the SEC.

Oh, and a cameo appearance by Michigan head coach Jim Harbaugh as the Emperor is quite amusing, as well.

This December has already brought us a mighty entertaining Star Wars movie. Let's hope it brings us a mighty entertaining College Football Playoff, too.

Northwestern running back Jeremy Larkin diagnosed with cervical stenosis, will retire immediately

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USA TODAY

Northwestern running back Jeremy Larkin diagnosed with cervical stenosis, will retire immediately

Tough news out of Evanston this morning: Northwestern announced that running back Jeremy Larkin will retire immediately after being diagnosed with cervical stenosis.

Cervical stenois is the narrowing of the spinal canal in one's neck, according to Mayo Clinic. Larkin's condition is thankfully not life-threatening, though it does prevent him from continuing to participate in the game of football. 

"Football has been a lifelong passion and it has been a process to reconcile the fact I won't be on that field again, given I've played this game since I was five years old," Larkin said.

"I'm extremely appreciative of the Northwestern sports medicine and athletic training staffs for uncovering this condition, and for my coaches and the medical staff for always putting my health first.

"I came to this University to engage at the absolute highest level on the field and in the classroom, and I'm grateful for the opportunity to continue one of those while supporting my teammates from the sideline." 

Head Coach Pat Fitzgerald called the news "heartbreaking."

"This is heartbreaking because I see every day how much Jeremy loves the game, loves his teammates, and loves to compete," Fitzgerald said in a statement. "But this is the absolute best possible outcome for him.

"The discovery of this condition allowed Jeremy and his family to make an informed decision for his long-term health and well-being. For those of us who have known Jeremy Larkin since his high school days, his future is exceptionally bright. I can't wait to see the impact he makes in our world."

Larkin is a sophomore from Cincinnati. He finishes his Northwestern career with 156 carries for 849 yards and 10 rushing touchdowns.

Former Illini champion Kevin Anderson upsets Roger Federer in Wimbledon quarterfinal

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USA TODAY

Former Illini champion Kevin Anderson upsets Roger Federer in Wimbledon quarterfinal

Former University of Illinois tennis star Kevin Anderson completed a marathon upset against an all-time great on the highest stage of professional tennis.

Anderson came back from two sets down to beat Roger Federer in Wimbledon’s quarterfinals 2-6, 6-7, 7-6, 6-4, 13-11 on Wednesday morning. He will play in the semifinals of the tournament for the first time in his career.

As a native of South Africa, Anderson played three seasons with the Fighting Illini and won the NCAA doubles championship during the 2005-06 season as a sophomore. The 32-year-old was a three-time All-American in singles at Illinois.

Now, as the eighth ranked singles player on the ATP World Tour, Anderson is a force to be reckoned with at the professional level. He made it all the way to the US Open final in 2017.

The former Illini star will look to keep his recent success going when he represents Illinois in the semifinals of Wimbledon this Friday.